SI experts pick semifinal winners, championship winner and MOP
Our experts in Dallas offer their picks for Florida vs. UConn, Wisconsin vs. Kentucky, the national title game and the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. Stay on SI.com all weekend for live blogs of each game, expert analysis and video coverage of the Final Four.
No. 1 Florida (South) vs. No. 7 UConn (East)
Seth Davis: Florida
The Huskies are playing inspired basketball, but let's be honest, Florida would rather be playing UConn than Michigan State. Florida is the bigger, stronger team, and unlike the Spartans, they will not get away from the things they do best.
Luke Winn: Florida
The Gators didn't have Scottie Wilbekin (ankle injury) to defend Shabazz Napier in the final minutes of their Dec. 2 loss in Storrs. Wilbekin's defense and Patric Young's work on the offensive glass will make the difference in this one.
Pete Thamel: Florida
The only two teams Florida has lost to are here in North Texas, giving the Gators' season a chance for some symmetry. Florida lost to UConn without Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, who have proven to be vital pieces for head coach Billy Donovan. Expect the Gators to roll at full strength and face their other in-season nemesis -- Wisconsin -- in the final.
Brian Hamilton: Florida
The previous meeting between these teams is moot. Florida wasn't the Florida we see now, and that game was in the cozy confines of Gampel Pavilion. Connecticut's voracious perimeter defense is tailor-made to preempt the Scottie Wilbekin effect, but so, too, is the Gators' defense primed to cut off the just-about-anyone effect. The No. 1 overall seed is too much for a Huskies team that runs out of steam.
Greg Bishop: Florida
The Gators play the most suffocating defense of any team remaining in the tournament. That plus the timely shooting of Scottie Wilbekin pushes the Gators past the Huskies.
No. 2 Wisconsin (West) vs. No. 8 Kentucky (Midwest)
Seth Davis: Kentucky
UK has not one but four frontcourt players who are big, agile and strong enough to defend Frank Kaminsky on the perimeter. The Badgers have a similar personnel and system to Michigan's, which means the Wildcats should have the same types of advantages as they did in their Midwest Regional final victory.
Luke Winn: Wisconsin
The 'Cats amazing run of offense -- in this NCAA tournament, they scored 1.26 points per possession against Wichita State, 1.16 PPP against Louisville and 1.32 PPP against Michigan -- is due for a cold spell, and the Badgers are calculating enough to pull off the upset.
Pete Thamel: Wisconsin
You can safely say that these two coaches are, um, self-assured. In terms of systems, it's old-school vs. new age. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan believes in developing players and relying on veterans. Kentucky believes in stockpiling talented young players and pushing them to grow up fast. It's still hard to ignore the inconsistency Kentucky showed throughout the year. The Badgers are a safer bet. (Besides, freshman guards Andew and Aaron Harrison can't keep playing out of their minds for the Wildcats. Can they?)
Brian Hamilton: Kentucky
The young Wildcats got a nice run-through of what it will be like to defend Wisconsin when they had to stop the patient, precise Michigan offense in the Midwest Regional final. The Badgers might be better at what they do than the Wolverines are, and Wisconsin poses more of an inside-out threat. That will keep this game close, but Kentucky has enough swagger, toughness and talent to keep rolling.
Greg Bishop: Kentucky
Somewhere the past two weeks Kentucky became the team most expected all along. The Wildcats are the most talented team remaining, the most athletic team remaining and the most NBA-loaded team remaining.
Seth Davis: Florida over Kentucky
Yes, it's hard to beat a team four times in one season, but if a team beats an opponent three times, it's probably the better club. Kentucky's defense is much improved, but the Gators have better overall balance, maturity and guard play.
Luke Winn: Florida over Wisconsin
Wilbekin missed all of Florida's Nov. 12 loss to the Badgers at the Kohl Center while serving a suspension, and the Gators had a negative assist/turnover ratio. They've been a well-balanced force since mid-December, when their point guard was back and at full health, and they've showed no signs of slippage in March.
Pete Thamel: Florida over Wisconsin
The Gators are simply the best team here. Donovan has them playing selflessly, and they have match-up answers off the bench for any team in North Texas. Expect Florida to pick-and-roll teams to death and win the school's third national title.
Brian Hamilton: Florida over Kentucky
An all-SEC final and a matchup reprised for the fourth time this season probably won't excite too many people outside of Florida and Kentucky circles. And it probably won't be exciting when the Gators win again, because for all of the Wildcats' reborn grit, the chips never slipped off the shoulders of a veteran group with a one-track mind.
Greg Bishop: Kentucky over Florida
It would be a nice story if a veteran team that played together trumped a squad filled with one-and-doners on stopover before the NBA. But the opposite will actually happen. John Calipari wins again.
Most Outstanding Player
Seth Davis: Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
He rarely puts up big numbers, but he always comes up with the big shots in crunch time. This weekend will be no different.
Luke Winn: Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
He doesn't need to score to win the MOP. Strong defense against Napier and Traevon Jackson, plus solid offensive distribution between Michael Frazier II and the Gators' three-headed frontcourt will be enough to showcase Wilbekin's value.
Pete Thamel: Patric Young, Florida
UConn doesn't have anyone who can guard Young, making his screen-and-rolls a nightmare for the Huskies, and his rebounding will be a factor in both game. He will deliver valuable contributions offensively and defensively all weekend and, as usual, great quotes afterward.
Brian Hamilton: Michael Frazier II, Florida
Wilbekin is the painfully obvious choice, and Florida won't win the national title without steadiness from its senior point guard, but he'll also be the focal point of defensive schemes. Frazier II can catch fire and loosen everything up, and his three-point daggers will help the Gators win the title while he takes home MOP honors.
Greg Bishop: Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle grew up in Dallas. He will win the title and the MOP award there. Then he'll enter the NBA draft. This is something that might have been predicted in October but not December. It's indicative of Kentucky's turnaround.